Fashion Island Coco's to close after 30 years

After more than 30 years of operation at Fashion Island, Coco's Bakery Restaurant will close May 31, officials confirmed this week.

The casual, family-style restaurant has seen several months of declining sales, according to Jim Kensinger, executive vice president of operations of Catalina Restaurant Group, which owns the Coco's chain.

Concluding the restaurant's lease at the end of this month, the Irvine Co. plans to utilize the space to create a new free-standing structure that will house Fig & Olive and other eateries, said Erin Freeman, the Irvine Co.'s senior vice president of corporate communications.

"The mix of restaurants and retailers at Fashion Island is forever changing to stay fresh and current with the newest trends," she wrote in an email. "It's what excites people here to continue to visit the center. As part of that evolution, we are making a strategic investment in our restaurant business to further solidify Fashion Island a premier dining destination in Southern California focused on unique California concepts.

"We are in discussions with several restaurateurs to create a restaurant corner on the south side of the center. [Fig & Olive] was the first of those to be announced."

Coco's, which long attracted local families and community groups in part because of its low-to-mid price point, was suffering effects of the downturned economy, Kensinger said.

While Kensinger would not release any financial information this week, he said that other nearby Coco's locations in Corona del Mar and Costa Mesa had not been hit as hard by the recession.

The Fashion Island location has 38 employees, some of whom have been with the restaurant for decades, Kensinger said.

"We are trying hard to transfer as many of those employees to other locations as possible," he said.

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